Background Achieving significant female representation in government at decision-making levels has been identified as a key step towards achieving gender equality. In 2015, women held 39.6% of parliamentary seats in Mozambique, which is above the benchmark of 30% that has been suggested as the turning point for minority representation to move from token status to having a sizable impact. We undertook a study to identify gender-related barriers and facilitators to improving women-centered policies in the health sector. Methods We conducted in-depth interviews with 39 individuals (32 women, 7 men) involved at a senior level in policy making or implementation of woman-centric policies within the Mozambique Ministry of Health and affiliated institutions. We used a semi-structured interview guide that included questions on difficulties and facilitating factors encountered in the policy making process, and the perceived role of gender in this process. We used both deductive and inductive analysis approaches, starting with a set of pre-identified themes and expanding this to include themes that emerged during coding. Results Our data suggest two main findings: (1) the women who participated in our study generally do not report feeling discrimination in the workplace and (2) senior health sector perceive women to be more personally attuned to women-centric issues than men. Within our specific sample, we found little to suggest that gender discrimination is a problem professionally for female decision-makers in Mozambique. However, these findings should be contextualized using an intersectional lens with recognition of the important difference between descriptive versus substantive female representation, and whether “percentage of women” is truly the best metric for gaging commitment to gender equality at the policy making level. Conclusions Mozambique’s longstanding significant representation of women may have led to creating an environment that leads to positive experiences for female decision-makers in the government. However, while the current level of female representation should be celebrated, it does not negate the need for continued focus on female representation in decision-making positions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)